Aveda is using blockchain technology to improve traceability in its Madagascan vanilla supply chain by collating data from supply chain partners via a secure, digital system. The program will bring traceable vanilla to more than 125 Aveda products starting this spring, the company says.
Blockchain technology is used to provide a reference to verify claims of the source and quality of ingredients, of particular importance in complex supply chains like vanilla. Aveda points out that 80% of the world’s vanilla comes from the island of Madagascar, small farms are responsible for most of the production, and complexities are multilayered, ranging from price fluctuations to major climate challenges to intensive farming needs. This is why vanilla was selected for the pilot program, the beauty company says.
Using mobile phones and QR codes, Wholechain creates a tamper-proof record using blockchain tracing of each vanilla bean’s journey throughout the supply chain. Beginning with a cooperative of 450 smallholder farmers in Madagascar, the technology traces the beans along the process from the sale to the local co-op; to LMR, Aveda’s fragrance house partner in France; and finally to Aveda’s manufacturing facility in Minnesota.
Traceability such as this is becoming more important to consumers, who increasingly want to know their products have been responsibly sourced and are made from high-quality ingredients.
The pilot program is a result of a partnership between Aveda and its parent company The Estée Lauder Companies, LMR Naturals by IFF, local Madagascar vanilla supplier Biovanilla, sustainable nonprofit BSR and blockchain company Wholechain. Aveda says it is one of the first beauty companies to launch a commercial blockchain pilot at such a scale.
Aveda global brand president Barbara De Laere says that, while Aveda has prioritized sustainable sourcing for decades, the company now has the technology to demonstrate this to the consumer. “With blockchain, we now have a direct connection to our farmers in Madagascar, providing us, our salon partners and our customers more transparency into our supply chain,” she says. BSR calls the pilot a “proof of concept for others to follow.”
Beauty company Estée Lauder has made a variety of public pledges regarding sustainability. In 2016, for example, the company pledged to achieve net zero carbon dioxide emissions by the end of this year. For progress on this initiative, check out the Environment + Energy Leader interview with Nancy Mahon, SVP of global corporate citizenship and sustainability for the Estée Lauder Companies.